From education to employment

Employing Prison Leavers: A Catch22Minutes Podcast

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Around 66,000 people leave prison in the UK every year. But figures show only 25% of men leave prison and go into some form of employment and the statistic for women is even lower at 20%.

Having a job greatly reduces the likelihood of reoffending – and with the yearly cost of reoffending at £18 billion, getting this right could have a significantly positive impact.

The government’s recently published Prison Strategy White Paper includes a number of measures to help ex-offenders into work. But why should companies employ prison leavers? What challenges might they face? Where can they find practical support to overcome those challenges?

To explore all this and more, we are joined by Darren Burns, National Recruitment Manager at Timpson Group, and Kate Carr, Campaigns Manager at Business In The Community who run the Ban the Box initiative.

You’ll also hear Amanul’s story, a graduate of Code4000. Currently operating in three prisons, Code4000 trains prisoners in coding and then places them into software development roles. Compared to a national reoffending rate of 46%, none of Code4000’s graduates have returned to prison.

Catch22 responds to Prisons Strategy White Paper

The Government’s Prisons Strategy White Paper includes a commitment to improved education and employment support in prison and for those being released. Catch22’s Director of Justice, Lisa Smitherman, reacts to the paper.

In response to the Prisons Strategy White Paper, Lisa Smitherman, Director of Justice at Catch22, said:

“The emphasis on meaningful education within the prison setting – with clear routes to employment – is hugely welcome. We know that having a job upon release greatly reduces the likelihood of reoffending, yet only around 25% of men and 20% of women secure work once they leave prison.

“In-cell learning will play a major part in this, and we welcome the new Prison Education Service to train up offenders with vocation skills including construction and coding. Our own work at Code4000, which teaches computer programming to prisoners, is proving very successful.  40% of those graduating from the programme have secured work immediately upon release, and none of the participants have gone on to reoffend.

“Properly preparing prisoners for release will be key to the success of a strategy that both protects the public and gives ex-offenders a renewed purpose.”

A former Governor of YOI Isis, Ms Smitherman added:

“Giving Governors more autonomy is a welcome move – but that must mean real empowerment, not lip service. They should be given the opportunity to strategise all elements of delivery from workforce to all service and contracts delivered to meet the needs of their prison’s population. The public league tables have the potential to improve standards and spread best practice.”

Catch22Minutes Podcast: In each episode of Catch22Minutes, we delve into some of today’s major social challenges, sharing case studies and inviting frontline experts, industry leaders and young people to speak – all in pursuit of reforming public services.

For the first series, hosted by Catch22’s Director of Communications Melissa Milner, we are focussing on youth employment.

We discuss how society can better prepare young people for today’s job market, and what businesses and government can do to open up future opportunities.

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